Some owners must accept that their dog is a picky eater for a lifetime.
Although others notice that their dog unexpectedly is picky.
It doesn’t matter why a fussy dog may feel like a daunting task to eat his meal.
So what do you do if your dog isn’t going to eat his food?
Five hundred dog owners were surveyed, and a behavioral animalist was consulted to find the best solutions for dogs that refused to eat.
We have compiled this list of 22 solutions with their help. When you finish reading, you should know what to do to get your dog to sleep.
1. Remove your dog’s meal until tomorrow
All right, so while this procedure may appear mean, many fussy eater owners swear about its success.
It starts by offering your dog food as usual for dinner.
Leave the room and don’t communicate with your pup during this period. Ignore him if your dog follows you.
Take his food away if your dog doesn’t eat his meal within 15 minutes.
You will wait until the next morning. It’s time to serve breakfast to your puppy.
Make sure it’s a fresh meal – don’t offer a kibble left out overnight.
Take it away if your dog hasn’t eaten his meal in 15 minutes.
Once you have dinner, your dog will have gone without food for a whole day.
Your dog will be quite hungry by this time and realize that he’s not getting anything else.
Your dog will be left with one choice:
To eat his food!
This method works because of no healthy dog hungers. Your dog will happily eat a meal that he doesn’t like if there is no alternative.
Oh, and don’t worry that your dog is starving. Generally, most dogs can go without eating for a few days.
2. Swap over to a tastier food
The way to making your fussy dog happy might be as simple as moving to the new food.
Your dog can’t talk, unfortunately—just bark. Your dog may try to tell you that he doesn’t love the taste by refusing to eat his food.
Try to avoid similar flavors when making the switch. The substitution of Purina One Chicken & Rice to Diamond Naturals Chicken & Rice, for example, would probably not make your dog eat his food; both of them taste very similar.
Instead, a different flavor should be tested. Let’s say your dog turns his nose to a chicken taste. Alternatively, you could try fish, Beef, or venison.
The good news is that delicious food isn’t costlier. Many finicky dog owners report success with a cheaper variety – cheap does not always mean good-looking!
For Slice, a fussy bulldog, that was the case. With its tight budget, Chop’s owner switched over Iams Chicken Flavor from the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula…
Chop immediately took the new food, and his owner saved money by turning to a cheaper brand.
Funny dog owners have reported success when they switch to fish-based dog food.
They observed that the stinky flavors of fish such as salmon, tuna, or whitehead are much more frequently Englished than traditional flavors such as Beef or chicken.
Fussy dog owners most suggested the following six fish flavors…
• Acana Freshwater Fish
• Crave Salmon & Ocean Fish
• Ziwi Mackerel & Lamb
• Purina True Instinct With Real Salmon & Tuna
• Diamond Naturals Wild Caught Salmon
• Wag Salmon
Did you have a sensitive nose? Such dry foods smell distinctly fishy. You may have to hold your breath as you eat your dog’s dinner. But it’s worth it if you see your picky dog eat his food!
Just don’t exchange the meal of your dog too often. The unintended consequence of constantly changing food is that it can make your dog refuse its food even more likely.
3. Make the transition slowly
Note: Skip to the next part if you haven’t changed to a new food
Did you swap to a new dog food brand? Dogs often do not react positively to a routine change. When a new type of food is presented, many dogs refuse to eat it.
The perfect example is my Golden Retriever. He’s going to eat a variety of disgusting things. Cat poop? Delicious! Yeah sure, he’s going to lick that right up…
A fresh kibble, however? He’s drawing the line – he’s selective with what he’s eating instantly.
When you move your dog into a new meal, it’s best to do it sloooooowly.
Fortunately, changing to a new food is a simple process if done correctly.
All you need is the current food for your dog, and the news feed will eat your dog.
Now you’re going to combine the two foods. Your goal is to reduce the volume of old food and to increase the quantity of new food for ten days.
• Days 1 – 3 – 75% current foods. 25% New food
• Days 4 – 6 – 50% current foods. 50% New food
• Days 7 – 9 – 25% current foods. 75% New food
• Day 10 – 100% New food
It might be slow, but your dog will eat his new food more often if you follow this.
Now, you may not be able to get the previous food for your dog to combine with its new diet.
Let’s say the favorite food of your dog is stopped. Otherwise, you ran out of food and grabbed everything on the shelf after a mad dash at Walmart?
Well, by using a meal topper, you can make the kibble more attractive. That brings me to my next item…
4.Mix in a food topper!
A meal top refers to any product that you add to your dog’s meal to enhance its taste. Think of it as an assault on dog food.
Many owners say that their picky pet will only consume dry dog food with a topper.
There are a wide range of food toppers to choose from such as:
• Marie’s Magical Dinner Dust
• Pedigree Choice Cuts
• Native Pet Bone Broth
You can read more about these and our other recommendations in our overview of meals.
Alternatively, you can mix other food through the meal of your dog …
A little wet dog’s food, cooked vegetables, or ground Beef can all attract a chicken eater to finish his meal.
The trick to using a dinner topper effectively is to pull it through the food of your dog to cover any bit of kibble.
Your fussy dog does not pick the food topper and leave the rest of his food behind.
5.Exercise your pup
It’s no secret that practice is an excellent way to build an appetite. I don’t know about you, but by the time I complete my morning jog, I’m starving.
But what might shock you is that you can perform the exercise to get a select dog to eat his food. This applies in particular to high energy dogs such as Fox Terriers, Dalmatians, and German shepherds.
You see, exercise starves dogs. And a hungry dog isn’t a fussy dog, as you may have guessed.
One of the easiest ways to train your dog is to walk for a long time – walking is right for you!
If you walk your dog already, try to increase the distance. We spoke to picky dog owners to see the greatest success in their pouch for 45 minutes or more before dinner.
Don’t have a walking time? There are other ways your dog can exercise …
• Test your strength with a tug of war with a tug toy
• A long game of fetch with a dog tennis ball
• Toss a plush dog toy around indoors when the weather is terrible.
In some cases, you can even get your dog to work out. Herding dogs will entertain with a herding ball for hours, such as border collies and Australian shepherds.
Whatever you do, your dog, it’s all about tearing it out.
It’s time to refuel after your dog burns off his excess energy. And as his meal is the only thing he will consume, he can enjoy it more.
Do not offer your dog his food immediately after exercise for the best results. Give him at least 15 minutes to settle for his stomach.
6.Throw it on the floor
Have you got a fussy puppy? You can use his playful nature to get him to eat his food.
Sit down with your puppy and scatter dried dog food a little at a time on the carpet. When your puppy is eating a piece, add another to it.
Because your playful pup thinks this is a game, he will eat more.
It can take a few sessions, but once he tastes his food, you may switch to a tub.
This approach can be a little messy, so it is better to do it externally. If you want to feed into them, grab a good swallow and sweep away after the meal is over – nothing is worse than feeling pieces of kibble crunch.
7. Turn feeding time into a game
Picky eaters often play with their food rather than eat it. You can get your dog to do both with the help of a good feeding toy.
Feeding toys combine eating and play. And they are perfect opportunities for toy-obsessed pups to persuade a dog to eat his food.
Jessica, the poodle’s owner, says her dog is not eating dry food. But as soon as she puts her poodle in a Bob-A-Lot, it can’t get enough.
Another owner, Jack, is using a snuffle pad to feed his fussy Springer Spaniel English. When a super sniffing dog finds kibble with his nose, he devours it, even though he refuses to eat the same kibble if he is offered a bowl.
Unfortunately, only a small amount of food is available in the feeding sets. While for a little dog like a Boston terrier, this may not be a problem, it presents a problem for more substantial dogs…
You can see that big races such as Rottweilers or Mastiffs might require as much as ten kibble cups per day. It would always be a full-time job to fill a feeding toy with this amount of food – it just isn’t practical.
But a feeding toy may be the very thing your dog needs to eat his meal for small/medium breeds.
8. Make sure you are feeding the right amount
This might appear a bit obvious, but you’d be wondering how many owners feed their dogs.
I can understand. I can understand. I know it can be hard to avoid giving your dog a special treat with these bulgy puppy eyes. It’s not going to hurt, right?
Your dog may not be fussy, but just full.
Surfeeding is a problem when you’ve got a small pup such as a Chihuahua, Papillon, or Griffon in Brussels…
These small dogs need much less food than you think. The smallest sizes could eat just a half cup of kibble all day long.
As you can imagine, these small stomachs are getting full fast. When your stomach is complete, the last thing you want is more food, isn’t it?
Well, your dog has the same feeling. And if you give him more food, your dog won’t eat it.
Although you may think your dog is fussy, it may take more time for your dog to eat his last meal.
Speak to your doctor about the food your dog wants. If you overfeed, cut it down – it might heal the picky food your dog eats.
9. Make your dog work for it
I do not know about you, but I find that the most satisfying rewards I work for are…
Your dog has the same feeling. He would enjoy his food even more if he has to fight for it.
Your dog will expect a short session of Shake, Roll Over, or any other trick for its hard work.
At this point, you are giving his meal to your fussy dog. Many picky foodstuffs are so rewarded that they usually forget to refuse this meal.
The key here is to make your dog believe that his reward is a big thing. Give praise and pats to your dog as you are giving him the meal.
When you can get the dog excited enough, he will assume that this meal is the best thing ever – he will eat his food without thinking a second time.
10. No Table Scraps
Are you sharing your dog’s dinner? You should not … You should not …
It will be hard to convince him to eat his dry dog food if you are.
Can you imagine dry kibble after a delicious hamburger is tasted? It’s a hard thing to follow – it’d suffice to make me a picnic too!
Luckily, this is an easy fix…
Don’t share your dog’s meal.
I know it could be challenging to resist. Especially when your dog peers with the bulging puppy dog eyes from under the table.
Your dog won’t go hungry, though, don’t worry. Instead, he is less likely to reject his food bowl. Worth it? I assume so. I hope so.
11. Pretend to eat it
A special thanks to Meagan, for telling us how to get a fussy dog to ingest this trick.
After reading our guide on how a dog can take a pill, it was the easiest way for her to pretend to eat it. Her Shih Tzu would gladly swallow a pill, considering it to be human food.
Meagan went more in-depth with this idea by breeding a fussy Havanese called Elon. Elon refused, as you might have guessed, to eat his food.
What is the solution? She took a kibble bag and enjoyed eating it like a crisps bag.
She would reach back into the bag if she hid the kibble in her hand, pretending to take another piece.
She would give the Havanese a single piece of kibble every minute or so. If he felt he hit the jackpot, Elon might smother it.
Then Meagan poured the kibble into the bowl of Elon. He finished the whole meal instead of rejecting it!
Curiously, it could be the solution to your picky pup to pretend to eat kibble!
12. cut back the treats
When your dog fails to feed, you should save the delicacies.
Treatments will usually account for just 10% of your dog’s daily calories. You will give your pup more treatments than he needs.
It doesn’t take much for smaller dogs to reach the daily limit. For example, only four small milk bones are necessary for an adult chihuahua. Everything else and you overdo it.
Too many treatments can ruin the appetite of your dog. If you’re too generous with your dog’s procedures, try to reduce or eliminate them from your diet.
But therapies will help to eat chicken in another way…
In some cases, your dog may refuse to eat because he wants a treat instead.
If you offer your dog treatments, even though he doesn’t eat his food, you strengthen the idea that if he waits for something better – you accidentally trained your dog to eat picky food.
One of the respondents to our survey, Claire, told her fussy German shorthaired pointer that this was the problem. Worried that her dog would go hungry, if he didn’t eat his food, she would give him treatments.
As you might have guessed, this smart dog realized that he would receive more delicious food if he had not eaten his meal.
Claire stopped giving him treatments and quickly returned as usual to eat his food.
13. Warm the meal to enhance the flavor
Most finicky dogs can only be persuaded to feed by warming up their food. This strategy is usually used for senior dogs that refuse to feed.
See, food heating does two things:
• Improves the flavor
• Releases a strong aroma
Essentially, it makes the food of your dog look tastier and encourages his appetite.
How do you heat the meal of your dog?
In a microwave or steamer pot, wet food may be heated up.
It’s as easy as stirring a little amount of hot water for dry kibble.
If the microwave is to be used, make sure that you don’t use a stainless steel bowl as it can fire. Instead, use a plastic or ceramic bowl.
Oh, you don’t want to offer your dog food that is too sweet, of course. If your pup’s food has been overheated, allow it to cool before serving.
14. Show your dog how bad it could be…
You treat your dog like royalty if you’re like me. You only serve the best possible dog food. That’s why your dog refuses to eat. It is so frustrating.
Fortunately, it is a simple solution. Show the dog how wonderful it is.
From my neighbor and her spoiled Boxer, Anastasia, I learned that trick. She feeds only Orijen dog food, which is an expensive material.
But now and then, Anastasia suddenly gets picky and does not want to eat it.
So, she’s offering food she knows Anastasia isn’t going to eat …
She hated Pedigree Kibble since Anastasia was a boxing pup – she refuses to eat.
If Anastasia ever rejected her Orijen kibble, she would be replaced by Pedigree kibble. Sure enough, Anastasia’s food would sniff, turn her nose, and go away in disgust.
My neighbor would then take away the kibble of Pedigree and present its original dish. Anastasia would now gladly chow down on the same kibble of Orijen she had denied before.
Now, I will emphasize that it’s not your will that this snubbed Boxer refused to eat Pedigree kibble. Indeed, Pedigree is their kibble for many dogs …
To be effective, you will have to find a food that your dog does not like.
Can’t find out what your dog doesn’t want to kibble? Purchase cheaper food. If your dog eats it, you can save money by switching. Win-win.
15. Create a safe space
Is your dog distracted or stressed easily? Your dog might not be picky. He just can’t focus on his dinner, turns out.
Some dogs will refuse to eat if turbulence or fireworks cause anxiety. Many owners report that with a thunder vest, they have solved this.
Another dog is concerned because its trainer is gone. In such cases, a dog may not eat its food until its owner comes back. There, you will need to handle your dog’s fear of separation.
A dog can also stop distractions from eating his meal. It may be challenging to focus on eating if you shower your dog with attention, or have a young child demanding to play with the dog.
It is also difficult to concentrate on feeding while an aggressive dog is in the area.
Finally, eating in a new place can stress a dog, so he rejects his meal …
Let’s say you’re on holiday. He needs to get used to his new collapsible silicone tub and an entirely different world with different views and smells.
In all these cases, creating a comfortable, peaceful dining area can help fix picturesque food.
The safe food for my dog is the bathroom. It’s quiet and uncomfortable. Best of all, if he makes a mess, the tiles are easy to clean.
16. Raise your senior dog’s bowl
Do you have an elderly dog that has stopped eating?
Perhaps your old dog finds it difficult to reach his bowl and eat his food.
Many owners report this in larger breeds as a growing issue. In older years, it is much harder to bend down to eat than when they were younger.
It will discourage your elderly dog from eating his food – suffering does not warrant it.
What is the solution? Raise the bowl of your dog to its height.
That is where a big dog bowl comes in. These raised dog bowls sit up to 12 centimeters from the ground and can reduce the joint stress associated with food.
You will want to purchase a raised bowl that matches the height of your dog. For example, for a Fox Terrier, a pot that’s the perfect height for a Pit Bull is too high.
Wouldn’t you like to cash on a new dog bowl? A similar effect can be accomplished by putting your dog’s bowl on the first stage …
After dinner, don’t forget to remove the bowl and don’t want to walk down your stairs.
Your senior pouch can now eat its food painless with the bowl raised to a much more comfortable eating height.
17. Go wet
Can you imagine every day eating dry dog food? I can’t. I can’t. And neither of these can be many dogs.
These dogs are not going to eat any dry food. No matter how high it may be.
The option you need to change to wet food is for these beautiful pups. Doses, dog food rolls, and sackcloth’s are the most natural wet dog food available – you can take it at your home Walmart.
Many common dry dog food brands have the same flavors. Purina One SmartBlend Kibble can be purchased as SmartBlend Cans for example
Unfortunately, the average cost of canned food is higher than kibble. However, if your dog eats his food, you may find that the additional costs are justified.
But don’t just drop the additional cash. There’s another way you can add moisture to the dry dog food of your pet…
Giving warm water to the kibble can increase your dog’s chances of eating it. You do not need much. You do not need much. Let it sit down for a few minutes before feeding your dog the meal.
Seek canned food instead if that doesn’t fit.
18. Routine, Routine, Routine
Consistency is essential. If your dog has an inconsistent eating schedule, he will probably eat his food inconsistently.
Dogs are like a sweetheart. They love routine.
One owner, we examined, said her roof dog wasn’t going to eat for two days, simply because she swapped over from him to a slow feeding dog pot.
Returning to his original metal bowl was all it took to eat this pup.
A good eating routine for a fussy dog should include …
• Feeding the same type of food.
• Use the same dog bowl.
• Feed your dog at the same time.
• Feeding the same amount.
• Feed your dog in the same location.
With a good routine in place, you can find a little consistency in your eater’s life.
19. Add some variety
Do you remember earlier when I used to say that exchanging dog food too often can lead to picky eating?
Well, this trick is contrary to the advice. Three respondents were successful in offering a variety of different foods to their picky eaters.
For instance, Jack from Arkansas has his dog on a diet of:
1. Diamond Naturals Adult
2. Canidae All Life Stages
3. Purina One SmartBlend
His dog gets a new meal every day, which switches back to the beginning after three days. Since switching to this feeding style, Jack had no problems getting his dog to dry food.
Does your dog take some days to a new food before suddenly rejecting it?
Rotating through various food brands could make your dog eat again.
20. Make sure your dog’s food hasn’t spoiled
I don’t know about you, but I won’t eat pizza all day long.
Your dog has the same feeling about his kibble. If you give your dog dry food left out overnight, he would possibly refuse.
Dry dog food does not take long to stop or even absorb moisture. This affects taste as well as the smell…
Your dog can tell the difference while it may look the same to you or me. He will refuse to eat it. He will refuse.
In this case, it could be all that is necessary to have your dog eat with a fresh scoop of kibble.
While we’re on the subject, you should keep an eye on your dog’s food expiration date. Having passed this date, food can become unsafe to eat.
Even if the expiration date has not passed, the kibble may lose taste and aroma in an improper store. When exposed to air, dry dog food will quickly become stalled.
Think your dog doesn’t eat because it’s stale? Here’s a particular trick:
Open a brand new bag with the same food for the dog. If your dog eats it happily, perhaps the old bag is stale.
Fortunately, a proper pet food storage container can be easily fixed. These airtight containers keep food fresh for your dry dog for longer.
21. Individual dogs need a unique bowl
Have you got a flat-faced dog like a pug or a French bulldog? Your pot can affect your dog’s eating capacity.
If your flat pup leaves half his meal behind, it may be because he has trouble eating it — he wants to, but he can’t.
You see, flat dogs eat with a movement. This makes it hard to reach small pieces of kibble that rest on the edges of the bowl.
Fortunately, some bowls make it easy to eat for smooth-faced dogs. The Enhanced Pet Bowl is our personal favorite.
A flat-faced dog bowl, like enhanced breathing and less gas, has many other advantages. Want more information? Check out our review of the best dog bowls with flat faces.
22. Is your dog’s food upsetting his stomach?
Have your dog allergies, loose stools, gas, or an uncomfortable tummy? This could be why your dog won’t eat his food.
According to the veterinarian Dr. Sara Ochoa, if he believes it is the cause of his discomfort, a dog may refuse to eat it.
Sadly, many dogs find that their stomach is irritated by regular kibble. Swapping to a specially formulated food can eliminate these sensitivities – if it doesn’t make you feel sick, your dog will more likely eat it.
Dr. Ochoa recommends a Sensitive Skin and Stomach Formula Purina Pro Plan. If she suffers from diarrhea, she uses it on her own body, to healthy stools.
As a bonus, this food is usually used for sensitive tummies as safe food. Many dog owners report that their dog was never so excited to eat kibbles until the switch was made.
Naturally, if you think your dog is sensitive to food or allergies, you should talk with your veterinarian. That brings me to my next item …
23. See your vet
Has your dog suddenly begun to reject food or be picky to eat? The problem might be medical.
Many medical problems can cause a loss of appetite or stop your dog from eating.
Some of the most common medical conditions leading to picky eating include:
• Swallowed something they shouldn’t
• Dental disease
• Gastrointestinal issues
• Arthritis or spine issues
• Vaccination side effects
When your dog does not feed when he or she loses weight or if its coat looks dirty, contact your veterinarian ASAP.
Sadly, many owners wrongly associate their dog’s weight loss with the dog’s refusal to eat.
A healthy dog won’t hunger, no matter how picky he might be. Unless your dog is on a diet, weight loss is probably a medical problem that needs to be addressed.
Yeah, and as always, your dog’s diet should be changed or added before continuing!
How did you get to eat your fussy dog? Have you got a tip to share? In the comments below, let me know!